21 Jul 2011

Ghostsigns World Tour

Perhaps being in Cambodia has sensitised me to the world of Ghostsigns beyond my home shores. Or maybe awareness of the project has encouraged those from around the world to make contact. Whatever it is, I thought it was time for a round-up of what’s landed in my inbox and surfaced on my internet radar over the last few months.

These are further examples of support for the Ghostsigns Worldwide idea which is still bubbling away at the back of my mind looking for a technical solution…

Back to the tour, don’t miss the boat as we set off on a journey that will pass through India, New York, France, Canada and the Hague, first stop Delhi.

This video is from a fantastic project called HandPaintedType which is hunting down experienced signwriters in India to profile their work and involve them by creating computer fonts from their painted lettering. One of these fonts is available as a free download (see example below), encouraging others to be bought to support the project. It is a great idea and unites the old with the new in a novel and surprising way. I’ll soon be featuring an interview with the project curator on this blog so stay on board and do visit the site for some very colourful photography of signs across the sub-continent.

Hand Painted Type alphabet by Umesh
Font: Umesh

Next we head to Europe and France, home of a great tradition of hand painted advertising. The blog of Anne Francoise Tixier has recently posted fliers for two exhibitions in the centre of the country. One features her own photography and the other showcases the work of Marc Combier, photographer in two of the three beautiful books from this country. I’ve tried to obtain more information but to no avail so if anyone has anything to add, or is even able to visit and get some pictures, I’d be hugely grateful…email as always is sam@ghostsigns.co.uk

Flier to promote photography exhibition of work by Anne-Francoise Tixier
Flier to promote photography exhibition of work by Marc Combier

From France it’s across the Atlantic to New York City where news of another Ghostsigns book has emerged. In the early days of my interest in the subject I was inspired and informed by the work of Frank Jump and have maintained regular communication with him since 2006. It is fantastic to find out that he has been commissioned to pull together a book featuring some of his best photos. I’m doubly proud to have been invited to contribute a short piece to the publication which will add to the existing titles from the USA. More news will of course follow here but for now you can learn more about Frank’s background and interest in what he refers to as Fading Ads. As a sample, here is his Omega Oil sign, something of a flagship for his project. Check out the scale, four stories high, fantastic!

Four storey blue and yellow hand painted sign on a New York wall advertising Omega Oil

Heading back to Europe we find ourselves in the Netherlands and their third city, The Hague, where a fascinating project has been gradually restoring Ghostsigns to their former glory (something also being in the UK: here). The project has been running since 2005 and details of the signs restored are documented with images and accompanying text (in Dutch, although it’s possible to partially translate by cutting and pasting into Google Translate). Here are the painters at work on this sign. I’m soon to receive some more information about this project so more will follow on this blog in the future.

Reuser Smulders Ghostsign Restoration in Netherlands

While in the Netherlands, here are a couple of photos from my 2007 trip to Amsterdam which I haven’t shared before…

Partial Fiat ghostsign from Amsterdam

Fiat (clearly covered while the wall around has been vigorously cleaned)

Van Gogh Sunflowers Adapted into a Wall Painting

Van Gogh does street art, or street art does Van Gogh?

Back across the Atlantic to Canada, and Montreal, home of this fantastic sign (below) for Turret Cigarettes, recently revealed afer a fire required the adjacent building to be demolished. Current regulations in parts of the city ban billboards, and signs put up before the ban are expected to comply. However, those with historical significance can gain exemptions. The fate of this and many others hangs in the balance. This news story [Link expired] brings more details and has a link to this collection of photos from the city.

Turret Cigarettes by John Fink
Photo: John Fink

From Canada it’s South to New York, and our final stop, where Colossal Media continue to impress with their large scale work for yet another alcohol brand, this time Amstel. In the USA everything is bigger, how many stories on this one…

That’s the end of our tour, I hope you enjoyed it. Please share anything you find from around the world via the Facebook Group or using the #ghostsigns tag on Twitter. Bon voyage!

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